Paul Craig has been relishing his first taste of UFC action on home soil, and on Sunday he gets the chance to make a lasting impression on Scottish fans when he takes on Khalil Rountree in Glasgow.
Coming towards the end of his twelve-week camp with the Scottish Hit Squad, Craig and coach Brian Gallacher made a decision to mix things up and head for Stockholm’s highly acclaimed All Stars Gym for a week.
“Being based in the UK and Ireland, there are not a lot of big guys that compete at a very high level,” Craig told MMAFighting.com.
“I get some great sparring with Phil de Fries, James Mulheron, and Mark Godbeer—they’re all big, powerful guys—but it was just good to get over to Sweden and to train with some new bodies to shake things up a bit.
“With all the big guys I spar with back home, we know each other inside out. Going to Sweden was to make sure I wasn’t getting complacent before this fight because I don’t have any reads on the guys out there.”
Boasting top-tier light-heavyweights such as Alexander Gustafsson, Jimi Manuwa and Ilir Latifi, Craig was encouraged by his time at All Stars and praised the gym’s charges for their professionalism during his stay.
“The guys I was training with at All Stars are in the higher echelons of my division. A lot of people were saying that there is a massive skill gap there and there’s not.
“These guys are studs, I was wondering myself if I’d even be able to get a hand on them, but the gap isn’t as significant as I thought it would be.
“Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi were with me the whole time I was there. It was great to be able to pick their brains. Jimi (Manuwa) came on Saturday, so I got three days of training with him too.
“These guys are at the very top of my division and I was able to mix up with them and find out little details that I need to work on.
“They welcomed me with open arms. There were no egos there at all. These guys are superstars and they treated me like I was one of their own. They were very good to me. They were giving me a lot of pointers. It was a really a great experience.”
After gaining such a positive experience from this time in Stockholm, Craig claimed that he and Gallacher would look to make regular visits to All Stars Gym for his future camps.
“Both me and my coach were speaking about it. He was actually with me for the trip and we both agree that I need to do this more often.
“I don’t think it will be a permanent move because I have everything I need here at Scottish Hit Squad, but it is good to get out of your comfort zone and mix things up so you don’t get complacent.
“100 percent I’ll go back over, but it won’t be a permanent move,” he said.